Originally posted on August 23rd, 2010
Every year teachers go through the process of filling out, creating or adjusting a professional growth plan. For me, this has always been a double-edged sword. I am very serious about words. As an English teacher, I know just how important something written can become, personally or societally. So I have always had a mild trepidation about this little document. I know of teachers that use vague terminology and educational jargon to skirt the issue of professional growth, and I know others who integrate the goals so carefully into their plans that they can tell you daily where their goal falls. I am in neither category. I have tried so hard to make my PGP’s ‘match up’ with my plans for the year, to justify the important work I have had to do, that it has sometimes driven me crazy. I didn’t want a PGP to be an add on, or something I didn’t attend to at all, so I buffered my learning into three simple goals that I probably would meet, but could challenge myself a bit with. I am no longer going to do this. I want goals that really stretch me in new directions, that are linked to current research and involve a real refinement of particular areas of my practice. Goals that matter to me and to students.
The change that has occurred for me this year, is that I now believe in publicizing my goals. No, I don’t mean taking out an ad in the paper, but I am going to post mine in my classroom this year, behind my desk where students can see them. I want my students to know that I care about their learning and that I am taking steps to become a better teacher for them. Moreover, I do want my PGP to become a living document, where I feel the results of my direction as I move through the school year. Too often, the best practices, documents and ideas we discover get stuck in a pile of ‘teacher stuff’ on a shelf somewhere, never able to cause the real change and benefit that we want to see. I want to change that. I want to review my goals often, and to see the results by the end of the year. I will also be taking this document with me to parent teacher interview nights, not as an explicit topic of discussion, but so parents can see it on the table and engage with how my growth involves their child’s learning.
There’s nothing new about the power of making something public. This is why the ‘whistleblower’ laws across North America have been so effective. When we know others are going to be watching, we take more care, stick to our convictions and achieve more than we would otherwise. We realize the true power of the words. I will be posting my goals for the year in an upcoming entry, but for now, who wants to post their goals here and make them public to the readers at www.MrKeenan.ca? If you agree with the ideas in this post, put your goals out there, so we all know that there are teachers willing to make it public and achieve great things for their students!
Thanks for reading, and have a great day!